Police Officer Suspended Without Pay

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

If you follow with any regularity the police misconduct stories I post on this site, you’re no doubt familiar with the phrase “paid administrative leave.” No matter how serious the alleged misconduct, cops nearly always get paid while they’re being investigated, a period that typically takes months.

But last week Stockton, Utah police officer Johsua Rowell was actually put on unpaid administrative leave.

His transgression? He issued a traffic citation to the son of Stockton Mayor Dan Rydalch.

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35 Responses to “Police Officer Suspended Without Pay”

  1. #1 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The police union will fight this for him and he’ll get all the back pay…and maybe a settlement from the city (paid for by the taxpayers). Everyone wins!

    No way police union lets any precident get set on ever suspending a LEO and missing a paycheck for anything …ever.

  2. #2 |  Highway | 

    My hopes were buoyed, floating on an ocean of possibility that someone had actually figured it out, only to be dashed, foundering on the rocks of reality.

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    The political class and their families are above the law.

    The officer should have known that.

    /snark

  4. #4 |  Zargon | 

    When I read the headline, my first thought was “how many people did he kill on camera and in front of how many witnesses?”.

    Then I read the post, and it all made sense, as he committed a far more egregious offense than murdering plebs.

  5. #5 |  Griffin3 | 

    Another Stockton city council member, Kendall Thomas, told KSL News the mayor is conducting the investigation into any wrongdoing in the incident and has not consulted any of the council members.

    Emphasis added.

  6. #6 |  Michael Chaney | 

    “I tried to defend myself and say, ‘First of all, look, he was breaking the law. Second of all, I didn’t know he was your son.'”

    Sigh. So, in other words, officer, had you known it was the mayor’s son, you would have let it slide, like you would have for family members of your fellow officers or other government officials?

    Sorry, part of the problem. Grow a set of balls and say “He was breaking the law, he got a ticket for it.”

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    …cops nearly always get paid while they’re being investigated, a period that typically takes months….

    And I think it takes months simply because they want to quietly sweep it under the rug once the case has lost the interest of the media (which apparently has an attention span that rarely lasts beyond the current news day) and the public (which isn’t much better).

  8. #8 |  Thom | 

    This guy makes it clear that had he known it was the mayor’s son he wouldn’t have issued the citation.

    It’s fascinating how people connected to government (at any level) seem to consider themselves to be an elite and privileged class, and how police officers, acting as their foot soldiers, rigidly enforce and honor this class division.

    Recently it seems to be getting more explicit. Public officials routinely become outraged when they are expected to obey the same laws they impose on us.

  9. #9 |  BobG | 

    “The police union will fight this for him and he’ll get all the back pay…and maybe a settlement from the city (paid for by the taxpayers).”

    I doubt it; I’m very familiar with Stockton and it isn’t big enough. You can drive through it in five minutes at 30mph. Barely big enough to be called a town.

  10. #10 |  Euler | 

    I think this article is supposed to make me feel sorry for the cop. It’s not working. He was running a DUI checkpoint a.k.a. harassing random people, so he got what he deserved IMO.

  11. #11 |  Mike Healy | 

    Hard for me to figure out who to root against here. My poor head is feeling all explodey.

    A supercitizen or an “only one”. I can’t choose.

  12. #12 |  Nipplemancer | 

    he should have immediately shot a dog to placate the Cheif and Mayor, possibly earning a medal.

  13. #13 |  Kevin | 

    I’m going to throw this out: I don’t think there would be anything wrong with suspending a LEO with pay while an investigation is conducted if we had a good sense that justice would be done. If we are to presume innocence, then the officer should not be punished until wrongdoing is confirmed.

  14. #14 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Hubris – Above The Law | 

    […] hate excerpting entire blog posts, but this one at Radley Balko’s place is short and can’t be done justice without the full text: If you follow with any regularity […]

  15. #15 |  Mike T | 

    Why didn’t the chief of police arrest him for Obstruction of Justice?

    Seriously… that’d be one of the few times where it’d be completely justified.

  16. #16 |  Mike T | 

    **and by him I mean the mayor.

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #13 Kevin

    I’m going to throw this out: I don’t think there would be anything wrong with suspending a LEO with pay while an investigation is conducted if we had a good sense that justice would be done. If we are to presume innocence, then the officer should not be punished until wrongdoing is confirmed.

    I think he should have a presumption of innocence in terms of criminal prosecution just like an ordinary citizen, but I think the city should have the option to fire him on the spot of they are convinced he poses a hazard to the people he is tasked with protecting. Obviously, a less harsh response (suspension with or without pay) would certainly be permitted if the case called for it. And, they shouldn’t have to ask permission of the union before they do it. Unions are not responsible for law enforcement or the safety of the public. They are simply organizations formed for the sole purpose of extorting high wages and benefits out of employers.

  18. #18 |  perlhaqr | 

    I gotta stop reading this site while I’m depressed.

  19. #19 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Well, now the shoe is on the other foot. Now a cop gets to feel what an abuse of power feels like. Not that it will do any good. A pox on all their houses.

  20. #20 |  PW | 

    These days, the police force is little more than a WELFARE AND JOBS PROGRAM for otherwise unemployable thugs.

    By every measure though, cop employment = cop welfare.

    – It’s completely funded by the taxpayers
    – It’s a government jobs program that creates an artificial surplus of positions, functions, and equipment (i.e. military tanks for a small town PD) well in excess of that which is actually demanded or needed by the public
    – As a government jobs program, it tends to “make work” by redirecting resources into inefficient and unnecessary tasks and positions (i.e. SWAT teams for everything from the fisheries bureau on up)
    – It’s nearly impossible to boot somebody off the cop dole for doing anything wrong no matter how horrible it may be, and up to and including defrauding the system
    – Those who defraud the system are actually rewarded with MORE cop welfare in the form of “paid administrative leave” for doing absolutely nothing for months on end
    – Those few who do not defraud the system are penalized (such as the Utah cop in this story)
    – It pays out hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime to cops who “retired” from the force with full benefits at the age of 45, and then never work another honest day for the next 30-40 years of their lives.

  21. #21 |  Roho | 

    This story also highlights the danger of being an abusive, power-hungry twit with an uncommon name. Good luck knocking those Google rankings lower.

  22. #22 |  Oatwhore | 

    These days, the police force is little more than a WELFARE AND JOBS PROGRAM for otherwise unemployable thugs.

    Evidence of the ol’ glazzies! Nothing up our sleeves, no magic little Alex! A job for two who are now of job age!

  23. #23 |  ChrisD | 

    Finally, some accountability! :)

  24. #24 |  MacK | 

    I have one very glaring problem with the cops reason for pulling the son over. He said he pulled him over, because he avoided a DUI check point.

    The mayor’s son should be getting a good lawyer to sue the cop for violating his 4th Amendment rights by stopping him without suspicion of a crime in the first place.

  25. #25 |  Z | 

    When I was a kid I would say “and liberty and justice for some.”

  26. #26 |  Big Chief | 

    The moral of the story:

    A cop can be dishonest and corrupt, but you have to hold political office to display total moral bankruptcy.

  27. #27 |  Big Icepick « Oh, My! | 

    […] (via Balko) […]

  28. #28 |  Waste93 | 

    I kind of doubt the officer pulled him over for avoiding the checkpoint. Though that is probably what drew his attention to him. More likely he then followed until he had PC for a traffic stop. Might be interesting to get ahold of a copy of the ticket to confirm though.

    Secondly the mayor should have been arrested for obstruction. Some states also have laws against retaliation which may apply. There are probably some other laws that were violated, possibly extortion, and the chief of police may also be in violation depending on their conversation. Plus you have a host of civil law violations. As others have mentioned, if the officer pushes this he not only gets his job back but gets a pay day from the city.

    Generaly I hold politicians and lawyers (often the same thing) in lower regard than officers. Even with all the stories here.

  29. #29 |  Bill | 

    “Rowell is a new member of the five-man Stockton police force. So, last Tuesday he didn’t think twice about pulling over a driver in a small white car for avoiding a DUI stop.”

    So he lacked probable cause to pull him over. He should be fired. Too bad it has to happen to the Mayor’s family for anyone to care (just like the guy with the dogs in PG County Maryland).

  30. #30 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Mayor spank!

  31. #31 |  Flo | 

    So, wait a minute… The dude gets pulled over for avoiding a DUI check point and gets hassled further because he’s looking for a lost dog and probably not driving “normally”, and doesn’t have ID. The officer could’ve used some discretion and let him off with a warning, told him to look on foot, or what ever, but he got caught running the check point revenue scam on the Mayors kid…

    You know, I can’t bring myself to feel sympathy for the officer. Its not like the Mayor showed up at the station and said; don’t ticket my family members. The cop may or may not have been 100% professional with the mayors kid, we’ll never know, but the fact of the matter is he disobeyed a direct order. Nepotism aside if the Mayor of your town wants to get hip deep in your butt, its probably worth your job to oblige him and vote for someone else next time…

  32. #32 |  David | 

    *Reads article title*
    Holy crap, some good cop-related news! How often do you see that around here?

    *Reads article contents*
    Son of a…
    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*
    *Johnnie Walker*
    *headdesk*

  33. #33 |  Peter Ramins | 

    The tax collectors and muscle working on behalf of the elite are protected, until such time as they work against the elite.

    Not surprising.

  34. #34 |  john | 

    PW | October 29th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    These days, the police force is little more than a WELFARE AND JOBS PROGRAM for otherwise unemployable thugs.

    By every measure though, cop employment = cop welfare.

    i hope you don’t mind me using cop welfare. it goes good with military welfare, bank welfare, sport teams welfare…… and on and on……….

  35. #35 |  Marty | 

    #6 – ‘Sorry, part of the problem. Grow a set of balls and say “He was breaking the law, he got a ticket for it.”’

    I generally agree with you, but in this case everything’s screwed up. I say, ‘Sorry, part of the problem. Grow a set of balls and say “He was breaking a bullshit law, and I refuse to write a ticket for it.”

    This is what happens in clashes between bullshit bureaucrats- a pissing match between paper pushers. The cop’s still new (and delusional) enough to think the community benefits from this shit. The mayor’s entrenched (and delusional) enough to think he’s too important to be held to the same standards as the serfs.

    Fuck ‘em both- I hope the worthless twerps get locked in a cage match with someone who really knows how to kick their asses.

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